PRASA Gauteng lines

Prasa have been threatened with cuts to their electricity and water by the City of Cape Town.

Photo: Siyasanga Mbambani

Pay up or else: CoCT threaten water and power cuts for indebted Prasa

The City of Cape Town say that if they follow through with the threat, commuter journeys won’t be affected.

PRASA Gauteng lines

Prasa have been threatened with cuts to their electricity and water by the City of Cape Town.

Photo: Siyasanga Mbambani

The City of Cape Town will cut off water and electricity supplies to the embattled Passenger Rail Association of South Africa (PRASA) on Monday unless it settles arrears of nearly R100 million on Friday.

The warning was issued by deputy mayor Ian Neilson on Thursday afternoon.

“This is as a result of PRASA repeatedly failing to pay municipal rates and services debts of approximately R114 million to the city, of which R98 million is the arrears amount,” Neilson said.

‘Action won’t affect commuters’

He contended that the decision would not affect the city’s commuter rail service, which is already reduced by at least 40 percent following the closure of its main line, because only the organisation’s offices and other facilities would be disconnected.

“The city’s disconnection will only affect PRASA’s offices and facilities and will not impact on the running of the trains.”

Neilson said PRASA made a payment of R86,7 million at the beginning of February against earlier arrears of R168 million, but it had given no firm payment arrangement for the outstanding arrears amount. 

He added that the decision to suspend services had not been taken lightly, but followed years of inconclusive talks.

Prasa non-payment giving commuters grief

Chaos ensued last week when Eskom cut the power to PRASA’s Cape Town subsidiary Metrorail for non-payment of some R6 million.

The rail service was restored after a few hours after transport minister Fikile Mbalula asked National Treasury to help PRASA to settle its bill.

Mbalula on Thursday morning announced that Cape Town’s central rail commuter line would be shuttered completely for extensive repairs and would partially return to service in September, and fully so in April next year. The refurbishment would cost R1.4 billion.

The minister late last year sacked the interim board of the debt-laden entity and appointed an administrator for one year to help turn it around.

“PRASA was run down and broken by people who stole money meant for trains,” he said on Thursday, alluding to rank corruption that cost the company billions. It has in addition seen repeated arson and vandalism of its trains and facilities in Cape Town.

The commuter rail service has become a political football between the national government and the Democratic Alliance, which governs Cape Town and the Western Province. The DA claims that it ran the rail service better and that it should be made the concern of local government.

– African News Agency (ANA), Editing by Desiree Erasmus